New Bedford City Councilor seeking to expand drones within police department

By: News Staff

NEW BEDFORD, MASS. — It may not be long before residents in New Bedford look up and see drones patrolling their neighborhoods.

In theory, they would be helping police keep a closer eye on high crime areas. However, that is if a proposal by one city councilor gets the green light. But the idea is raising some privacy concerns on the ground.

City Councilor Brian Gomes is pushing the city to take a closer look at expanding drones within the police department.

“I’m trying to bring a tool, a strong message to criminals out there that we have another tool and we are going to use it to the fullest extent to make sure you don’t crime to our city’s neighborhoods.”

The police department already has two drones, which are mostly used for search and rescue.

Gomes wants to put them in the air full-time.

“You could have car chases within the city and we’d be able to follow the suspect with the drone and have units follow into place. We’re open to using any other technology that’s going to ensure the safety of our residents.”

Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro says the two drones they have now have played a vital role when needed.

He says having more will only help his men and women on the ground.

“If we have an active shooter, we have the capability to put that drone up and it would cover a huge part of the city that we wouldn’t look at otherwise,” said Chief Cordeiro

However, the ACLU of Massachusetts fears that the proposal could lead to an issue of invasion of privacy and says more details need to be provided.

“There will be no invasion of privacy, we will monitor and tape every time that drone lifts up in the air and it will all be recorded and there will be accountability of our police officers who are using this if that comes to fruition.”

©WLNE-TV / ABC6 2016